Monthly Archives: May 2017

Oregon Celebrates School Wellness Awards

oregon-school-wellness-award-banner

Each year for the past decade, Oregon School Wellness Awards have recognized outstanding schools for their efforts to improve child health by connecting nutrition, physical activity and academic achievement. On the tenth anniversary of the awards, the Oregon Department of Education announced three new schools as recipients for 2017.

  • Adams Elementary, Corvallis School District
  • Milwaukie High School, North Clackamas School District
  • St. Paul Elementary, St. Paul School District

In partnership with Oregon Department of Education and Nutrition Council of Oregon, the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council serves as the title sponsor for these awards. Each award recipient receives a $2,500 cash prize, a banner, and a certificate of recognition presented at special school assemblies.

“We are excited about how this award will help shape our future wellness efforts,” said Kylie Pybus, MPH, Health and Wellness Coordinator at Milwaukie High School.

Schools are judged and selected based on criteria including school wide wellness policies and initiatives, physical education and physical activity, school meal programs and community involvement. Each one of this year’s winners were lauded for improving their standards and showing positive results in healthy student and staff behavior.

“There is clear data that student health and student learning are connected,” said Joyce Dougherty, Child Nutrition Programs Director for the Oregon Department of Education.

Oregon schools that are actively working to improve student and staff wellness are encouraged to apply for next year’s awards. To learn more, visit the wellness page on the Oregon Department of Education website.

Eight Questions for an Oregon Dairy Mom

Mary Chamberlain is a dairy farmer alongside her husband, Jason, and in-laws Warren and Lori, at Dairylain Farms in Vale, Oregon. Mary and Jason have three boys between the ages of one and seven, and she coaches a cross country running team at the local high school. We asked Mary eight questions about her life as a farmer, community volunteer, and a mother.

Why do you farm?

It’s a family tradition that goes back to our great-grandparents. I was raised on a dairy farm, and I married a dairy boy. It only made sense to work on his parent’s dairy and raise our kids to love dairy cows as much as we do. Raising calves, fostering them to cows, and giving them what they need to produce wonderful milk — that is the pretty basic description of what we do. But in reality it’s so much more.

When our first born arrived, I tried to stay home, but the farm needed an extra set of hands. I found myself pushing a stroller along as I fed calves, vaccinated cows, or checked heifers. Now on our third child, we start our mornings by heading to the barn to get milk to feed the calves, and end our day checking on the robots (we added robotic milkers last July). I’m very proud to have my boys working with us every day.

What’s life like for your kids on the farm?

They all have different levels of love for the farm and our way of life. My one-year-old just loves to watch the cows, and of course, sample their food.

Dairylain_2017_2048My four-year-old plays for hours with his farm toys in the sandbox. Every once in a while we catch bits of his make-believe land, where he is the ‘dad’ and he drives his loader and feeds the cows. We even get hints of a girl he likes as she makes an appearance in this pretend world to feed baby calves. When he isn’t in the sandbox, he loves to follow his dad around or ride along while I check on the heifers.

Our seven-year-old is starting to connect the dots that feeding animals and taking care of them is essential for them to not just survive but to helps us survive. When an animal is born, he is one of the first to let us know, and then help his dad move her to the barn. He helps with every task on the dairy. Some he hates (he thinks feeding calves is too boring) and others he loves (like picking out animals to train for fair).

And you’re also involved in your local schools?

Yes, I’m the local cross country head coach, and I substitute teach when I can (which is a bit rare these days with a one year old). Before my boys, I ran marathons and did triathlons all over the country. These days, it’s important for me to stay fit for my sanity and my health. Coaching running is great way to give back to the community and teach kids a way to deal with their own stress and worries.

With a master’s degree in dairy science and a love for running, I’m a bit of a quirky sub. I encourage getting outside to do work. I believe there is this huge connection to moving and learning that we don’t utilize in the classroom.

How important is nutrition to your family and your cows?

Dairylain Farms Chamberlain jerseyAs a three time mom in her 30s who still runs and bikes when she can, what’s in my food and my boys’ food is a concern. We all burn a lot of calories. I don’t want any food around that is just going to give a quick energy high and then leave me with a headache and cranky kids. Protein, carbohydrates, digestible and usable sugars, vitamins and minerals: that’s what I look for in all my food, and I try to balance the levels based on what we need and when we need it.

Good nutrition is also important to our cows. They are sort of like a pro-athlete; they will burnout if they don’t train and eat right. We feed the cows to increase milk supply naturally by giving them the correct amount of energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals (and plenty of water). We have to make sure their nutrition allows them to milk plenty but doesn’t deplete their bones and body.

Do you use antibiotics or hormones?

Out of 375 milking animals, we have only one that’s getting antibiotics right now. We use antibiotics on our dairy according to the label, and no antibiotics are allowed to enter the food supply. If she gets an antibiotic shot, her milk gets dumped.

I think there is a misconception that as dairy farmers we are constantly giving shots for sickness. Really we give very few. My one year old has received more doses of antibiotics for ear infections this winter than we gave the entire milking herd for the same four months. We all work hard to give our animals the best chance to fight colds and viruses on their own. When they can’t, we call the vet and get the medication they need.

As for hormones, cows don’t need additional hormones to make them give more milk, they have enough natural ones.

How do you take care of your cows and calves?

Dairylain calf feedingWe feed them, ensure they are safe, healthy and comfortable, and we provide clean homes and bedding. We give the calves blankets and warm water in the winter and cold water in the summer. Sometimes when my kids are sick, it’s hard to leave the house to work at the dairy. But the cows and calves need us too.

Cows are not humans, and sometimes they can hurt or neglect their calves. So to the calves, we are their foster parents. They depend on us to understand their language, like a wagging tail and licking tongue means ‘I’m good!’ — droopy eyes and not getting up right away means something doesn’t feel right.

How do you care for the environment?

Improving the land around us is a big priority. Since we grow our own crops for the cows to eat, there is always plenty of land that could use more nutrients. We sample the soil to decide where nutrients are needed and that’s where we spread manure from our pens and barns. It’s natural, organic fertilizer.

We ensure that the water used in our barns for cooling milk is recycled, so the cows can have plenty to drink. We are constantly looking for ways to reduce waste in all forms and recycle what we can. We use solar powered electric fences to keep the heifers in, and solar powered pumps to run our pivots to keep the fields watered and the grass growing.

Are there any parting thoughts that you’d like people to know?

Dairylain_2017_1972Just as none of us are perfect parents, there are no perfect farmers. But we honestly do the best we can do on this day, and hope for the same or better tomorrow. Every day is another chance to do even better. I trust what we do, what my neighbors do, and what our fellow friends and dairy farmers across the country do. We are proud of the quality foods that we help bring to your table and ours!

RELATED STORY
Mother’s Day Brunch Idea: Better with Berry Butter

Mother’s Day Brunch Idea: Better with Berry Butter

Poppyseed Muffins with Strawberry Butter

Mother’s Day is on Sunday, May 14, but you knew that already, right? Of course you did, because mom is special … plus you know what’s good for you! Short changing mom on her special day is just not an option.

We’re here to help. If you’re planning a brunch, here’s an easy, unique and delicious recipe you can do to sweeten up the usual fare. This simple strawberry butter with poppyseed muffins adds color and flavor to the table. Plus it’s something the whole family will enjoy.

Follow this simple recipe, and enjoy! And don’t worry, you can take all of the credit – we won’t say a word.

Yield: 12 muffins

indulgent-recipe

 


Prep time: 15 min   Cook time: 15 min

INGREDIENTS

For the Strawberry Butter:

2/3 cup chopped strawberries
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Almond Poppyseed Muffins:

1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

INSTRUCTIONS

For the Strawberry Butter:

Sprinkle strawberries with sugar and mix well. Let stand at room temperatures 30 minutes to 1 hour. Drain off liquid and discard or reserve for another use.

Add drained strawberries, butter and salt to bowl of electric mixer. Mix until well incorporated and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the Almond Poppyseed Muffins:

Preheat oven to 450°F and butter muffin tin.

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.

In large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, eggs, almond extract and sour cream. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in poppy seeds.

Fill muffin tins about 2/3 full each with muffin batter. Bake for 12-16 minutes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Allow to cool on wire rack. Serve warm with strawberry butter.

Strawberry Butter with Almond Poppyseed Muffins
Courtesy of the American Butter Institute and Crème de la Crumb

 

RELATED STORY
Eight Questions for an Oregon Dairy Mom

Back to School: Literacy Project Helps Bridge Gap

Mary Swearingen and class

by Mary Swearingen, dairy nutrition consultant and Oregon Dairy Women member

Twenty years ago, I was in the third grade when my cousin (a county dairy princess at the time) visited my class to give a presentation — it was the same year milk became the Official State Beverage of Oregon. Twenty years later, I returned to read to three first grade classes at Mary Eyre Elementary School in Salem on April 12.

Mary Swearingen AITC Lit Project

The opportunity was made possible by a literacy project organized by Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom. In all, 72 students listened attentively and discussed where our dairy products come from, how dairy is part of a well-balanced diet, and everything our farmers do to care for their cows.

I work as a nutrition consultant for a feed company in Harrisburg, and because the literacy project activity focused on nutrition, I brought feed samples with me and explained that I help farmers create balanced diets for their cows.  Students got to see and smell alfalfa hay, flaked corn and almond hulls.

We talked about how cows are amazing at recycling byproducts, or leftovers from food production. I feel that it was important to volunteer for this year’s literacy project because the book answered the ever so popular question: does chocolate milk come from brown cows? A common misnomer among consumers, the book illustrates that all breeds of dairy cows produce white milk.

Mary Swearingen and cowIt was a really great opportunity to help bridge the gap between the farm and the classroom. After all, our milk and dairy products don’t just come from the dairy case. As a treat for all the students (and teachers) I brought 75 pints of chocolate milk with me, and the students all loved it.

At the end of the presentation, I opened the floor to questions and by far my favorite was from a concerned student asking, “in the middle of the day when the farmer is trying to sleep, doesn’t he get tired of hearing those cows moo all the time?”

I grew up as a city kid, but spent most of my school breaks working on my aunt and uncle’s dairy in Stayton picking berries and feeding calves. It didn’t take long to develop a passion and love of the farm, to see the hard work and effort it takes to dairy was quite literally a life-changing experience.

I went from one extreme to the other, wanting to be a teacher to Veterinary Medicine, and ultimately to animal nutrition.  I got involved in 4-H Livestock my freshman year of high school and participated in the Oregon Dairy Women’s Dairy Princess Program. These experiences have led me to see the importance of educating our youth and advocating for our farmers and ranchers.


The Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council proudly sponsors Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom’s 2017 Literacy Project. More information is available at oregonaitc.org/programs/literacy-project.